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Australia competing to stay among volleyball's best

The coaches and captains of Australia and Serbia gather at a World League Pool A press conference in Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia, July 3, 2015 - Australia will be fighting to keep its place in Group 1 of the FIVB Volleyball World League when it takes on Serbia in Melbourne this weekend.

While the Volleyroos can’t move off the bottom of their group, two wins would guarantee it stays in Group 1 next year at the expense of Russia.

“If we can keep a high level of competition for next year, especially leading into Rio and for the future growth of the guys, it would be something amazing,” Australian captain Tom Edgar said.

“To be brutally honest Russia were the Olympic champions, so to have an opportunity to knock them out of the top eight, and for us to stay in the elite group of World League, is something special.

“If we can maintain that kind of exposure and that kind of level for another year I can’t imagine where we will be.”

The pressure is off for Serbia, guaranteed a place in this year’s Group 1 Finals in Brazil.

But captain Nikola Kovacevic says his team are determined to finish well.

“Maybe there’s a little less pressure, but we have come here to win, this is our target, but maybe it’s not so much pressure,” he said.

Several of Serbia’s top players have not made the long trip to Australia, coach Nikola Grbic preferring to rest them for the World League Finals.

“Because we cannot change our flights, we can’t fly from here to Brazil, so we do not want all our players to have jet lag,” he said.

He is expecting a very different Australia this weekend to the team Serbia beat two-nil last month.

“Of course, Edgar wasn’t in Serbia and another middle wasn’t playing, so for sure they will be more difficult to play,” he said.

“For me it is not important who is going to play. For me it is important that everyone who goes to the court gives 100 per cent and wants to win, that’s the mentality I want. “

Australian coach Roberto Santilli says just because some players will be missing it won’t be any easier for his team.

“Just to be clear, the fact that they didn’t bring some players, doesn’t mean that they are a weak team,” Santilli said.

“This is one of the best volleyball countries in the world, they have 12 or 14 very good players.

“Of course we have a small advantage, in that we have been here for two weeks and they have just arrived yesterday. It is a small advantage but we don’t have to consider it a big advantage.

“For us in this World League, some moments were difficult. This is the last weekend and we expect to get some confidence and get a result that we deserve to have.”


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